|Power is nothing |
Just got back from a range trip, and one of the guns I was messing with today was the Maxim 50, SilencerCo's suppressed muzzle loader. I've had it out three or four times since I got it, and today was the first time I really made progress on getting it to shoot reasonably. Figured I could pass on some real-world experience on how well the thing actually works.
First off, I should say the Maxim 50 was the first muzzle loader I've ever owned, and that probably wasn't the best idea. I didn't have any personal experience with these types of guns, and was relying on the internet to get me pointed in the right direction to get started. The biggest problem was that it took me a while to get a handle on just how big of a difference swabbing, full-on cleaning, or doing nothing at all to the barrel between shots can make. I still don't have it down to a science, but in general, my gun seems to go between 5 and 10 rounds before I need to swab it out. Also, it doesn't really like being squeaky clean...at all. I've learned that the first round I fire after pulling the gun out of the safe is basically a sacrifice to the gods. That clean bore shot generally stays within two feet of where I'm aiming at 50yd, but that's about it. Once I've got a round through the barrel, it is much happier.
Next, this gun is SUPER picky about bullets. Your options are more limited than normal anyway because you can't use any bullets with sabots or any other bits that fall off. It's solid full-caliber rounds, or the Bore-Lok stuff from Federal. My gun will only shoot something approaching a group with the Bore-Lok bullets. The lubed lead bullets, and copper plated Hornady stuff was all over the place. Maybe they would work better with a different bullet seater, or a different powder, but with the stuff that comes with the Maxim, and Blackhorn 209, they shoot like crap. The Bore-Lok bullets still aren't fantastic, but I've managed to keep them inside 5" at 50yd. This is still a work in progress, and I should be able to improve that more, but for now that is the best I have gotten. Also, the ONLY powder I have used so far is Blackhorn 209. Call me lazy, but cleanup is bad enough with this black powder substitute. I really don't want to mess with trying to clean up after REAL black powder. I may try white hots or something like that, but for now 209 ignites pretty consistently and cleans up without too much of a fight.
So, in my experience so far, the accuracy is mediocre and it is more picky than a .22 about what it will shoot...but is it quiet? I mean, the whole gimmick here is the integral suppressor, so how does it work? It works OK, but again it is tricky to keep from going supersonic. When you manage to keep rounds subsonic it is pretty quiet. I'd still wear hearing protection, but it is noticeable that the report from the gun is much less than something like a 45-70, even with light loads. The trick is that the recommended 100gr charge of Blackhorn 209 seems to be right on the edge, and on a hot day like today, it can send the bullets supersonic, at which point the crack can be clearly heard. It's annoying enough that the gun is so picky about so many other things, but now I'm thinking I need to adjust the powder charge for warm weather vs. cold weather. Again, other propellants might help, but without going with true black powder, it's pretty much pellets and there is no tweaking those if they end up just a bit too fast.
Lets talk about the tube. In order to allow loading and cleaning without everything getting lost in the silencer baffles, there is a brass tube you have to insert into the muzzle which blocks all the baffles so powder, bullets, and patches will all make their way into the barrel. The tube its self isn't much of a hassle. Certainly its no worse than the other goofy stuff muzzle loaders demand, and it slips in pretty easily. If you ever get one of these guns, buy an extra brass tube. There are a few reasons I suggest this. First, it is nice to have a 'wet' tube and a 'dry' tube. You can get away with one, but I've had better consistency using one tube to pour powder and bullets through, and a second one for solvents and wet or lubed patches. Second, the brass is pretty thin, so all the banging from starting bullets can flare out the ends. Mine hasn't gotten bad enough that I can't fit it into the suppressor, but the ends of the tube are deforming. I try to be careful when starting bullets, but there is only so much you can do. Lastly, it's not very hard to forget the tube is in there and shoot the gun with the brass tube still in place. Yes, I did this. No, nothing blew up. I was even able to pull the slightly-deformed brass tube out by hand. It had bulged a bit, but it didn't rupture or expand so much that it wouldn't come out of the bore. I have not made the same mistake since, but given how unusual this loading step is, I doubt I'm the only one who has done it.
Finally, the gun its self. It's a cheap modern muzzle loader. Not much more to say than that. The trigger is ok, the furniture is forgettable plastic, and I wouldn't describe anything about the guns operation as smooth. It isn't outright bad, it's just a cheap gun with a not-so-cheap suppressor welded onto the barrel. It does come with a nice carrying case with just about every accessory you would need to go shooting. As someone new to muzzle loaders, the accessory package really was well thought out and a nice addition. Also, I've never needed a wrench to get the breach plug out. The base gun is what you would expect from a $300 budget rifle. The rest of the $999 price tag is the suppressor and extras.
All that said, how do I actually feel about having bought the thing now that I've had the chance to shoot it a few times? I don't think it is that great of a gun, but I'm still glad I bought it as a curiosity, and to as a way to reward a company thinking outside the box and trying to let us law-abiding citizens take advantage of as much of our freedom as we can. To me, the Maxim 50 is a bit like a bump stock or a binary trigger. It isn't really all that useful, but there is no legitimate reason why we shouldn't be able to own them if we want to. I just like the idea that I could order one of these up on the internet and have it delivered straight to my door. Would I recommend anyone else buy one? As a toy or a curiosity, sure. As a working gun of some sort, no. I don't regret buying it, but I doubt I will shoot it all that much. Of course, I don't imagine I'll be buying any other muzzle loaders either. I think I'll stick with smokeless powder and brass cartridges, and let the Maxim 50 be my one and only front stuffer.
many thanks for this, I've been considering one.
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Thanks for the thoughtful review. As someone who hunts with a muzzle loader I didn't see the benefit of the Maxim 50. I have a really nice Thompson Pro Hunter that I can change uppers on if I want to shoot conventional cartridges. It's also extremely accurate out to about 200 yards. I guess if you have tinnitus or some other hearing issues, I could see the value.
I have a CVA witht he bergara barrel. It took me a couple hundred rounds to understand how you load it and the consistency of which you do it the same way really makes all the difference in accuracy. after that, I moved over to my Great plains 58 cal and can produce similar groups out to 100 yds with it. Consistency in how you load is at least in my experience the same level of importance as what components you choose to load it with.
Thanks for the report. I was curious.
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|Power is nothing |
Yep. When I am reloading brass/smokeless cartridges, I can get most of my repeatability by purchasing quality tools and components. With the Maxim, I can’t do that. I’m basically assembling a round at the bottom of a steel tube covered with crud on the inside. Plus, I’m doing it all by hand with no precision machined tools to keep everything the same each time. It’s a challenge for sure.
However, when everything is working, the gun is shooting straight and letting out quiet little poots instead of booms or cracks, it does put a smile on my face. Of course, I could probably have the same smile by getting a can for my 300blk build, and it would be a helluva lot easier to get it to shoot well!
- BretThis message has been edited. Last edited by: sadlerbw,
Everything from weighing the pellets or powder. To how many times and how forcefully you pack the bullet down. The thickness of the patch. All of those things make a world of difference in the level of consistency.
I've got a Maxim 50 as well. I would say my luck with groupings has been significantly better than yours; it shoots about 2" at 100m with iron sights, 100 grains of Blackhorn, and Federal bore-lok solid copper rounds (or whatever they call them).
I've had no issues with it going supersonic even at 8200 feet on a hot day. It's much quieter than our suppressed 300 magnums that we generally hunt with. Yes, I realize that isn't saying a whole lot!
Colorado presents an interesting challenge regarding the Maxim, as it's not legal to use optics during muzzleloader season - no doubt a concession to the fact that it's by far the best week to hunt elk, right in the middle of archery season. So I had to get creative with a set of first-gen Magpul MBUS flip-up sights, a cheap clamp-on rail designed for shotguns (front sight), and the Traditions factory rail on the back. So far, so good. I'm expecting to shoot a mule deer doe with it in September.
Hope your luck improves with the rifle!
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